Tuesday, December 31, 2013

 Another stinker of a day here, it's 39 C (103 F) on the back porch and it's 4 pm. Tomorrow  it's going to be even hotter, but at least it's a holiday for New Years day and we can stay inside and keep cool.

The heat means I'm picking any tomato that's ripening, because they seem to cook on the vine otherwise. There are three large trays on my windowsill with about ten kilos of fruit getting nice and red. I've already cooked and frozen ten kilos and there's at least twice that amount left on the bushes. I'm well pleased with the crop this year, and now I'm picking eggplant, and soon zuchinni as well. I'm glad I've got a veggie garden, even if it's not as big as I'd like.

I'm trying to finish piecing a border for a new top, and I seem to have made a mountain of red HST and it's still not enough. It just needs more and more and More! I can see the end in sight though, and then I can sew them to the main part of the quilt and then sew hundreds more pieces for the final border..... I might be seeing the new year in at the sewing machine I think.

 I've also been sewing my tiny diamonds, and finished this little top the other day. I'm having so much fun playing with these scraps and have ideas for lots more.

 Son John, who lives in a town 25k away said that he saw shedloads of fireworks being set up today  in the local park, and that means their dogs will end up going beserk from the noise and the flashes.   I really can't see the sense in it myself, especially when the council has much better things to spend our money on......
We usually don't stay up till midnight, and we certainly don't do more than have a solitary drink of something innocuous. We intend to make some plans for next year and reflect on 2013, which was not a particularly good year for our family. I'm looking forward to a visit from Rob and family soon and the birth of two new babies in 2014, and hopefully a lot of exciting things on the quilting front. Hope everyone has a Happy New Year and tell us your goals and what you want to achieve- it's always inspiring to read about other people's plans.


Friday, December 27, 2013

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and had good times with their loved ones. We spent the day with number one son and wife, third son and Keryn's DD. It was very laid back, which is what I needed after all our hectic running around. Now we have a few days off, and we can calm down and think about the new year coming up. We never do anything to celebrate, but I do like to contemplate the old year and try to make plans for the new.

The new owners of Bear, now named 'Chief', sent me this photo on Christmas day along with the message that he was having fun in his new life at the beach. The other puppies seem to have settled in well too, and they must be bringing entertainment to a whole host of other people judging by the reactions of their new families. That's nice to know, and softens the fact that our own Christmas was puppyless. I do miss those little guys.

But in the meantime I have to start dealing with my tomatoes which have ripened by the kilo, and I foresee batches of sauce and salsa and chili sauce and whatever else I can cook up until the supply runs out.
And I still have a few four patches to make for Bonnie's mystery, and the borders to get on those tops, so I'd better go and get busy.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

 I've been so busy I haven't had time to post about the puppies much, and now they're going to their new homes and it will all be over. I have had so much fun with this little crew, I can't believe how much I'm going to miss them. Especially Sari, who has turned out to be the prettiest little thing, full of personality and energy.
 She and Bear are going this weekend, Tansy and Titch left earlier this week, and then it will be only Dozer for another week, and they'll all be gone. Pippi will miss them too, she's been the best mum to them. Must stop thinking about it, because I get all maudlin, sigh....

Keryn and I are sharing Bonnie's mystery and I've done all the steps except for the first one. I wasn't well that week, so I've got a bit of catching up to do. We decided to do Pensylvania Dutch colours because I barely have any orange in my stash, and I didn't want to buy any.

 Once the pieces are cut out the sewing goes quickly, but because I'm using scraps there's a lot of hunting through containers, pressing and trimming of little pieces.
 Strips would be easier, but the chance to find a home for some odd pieces of fabric is too good to pass up.
And then there's a stack of tops that I want to put borders on. Once I've done the hard part of choosing the fabric I'm itching to get the borders sewn together. Now that I feel better I'm going to attack this pile that's cluttering up my table.

So much to do, better keep busy so I don't think too much about this dear little face, sniff.


Saturday, December 07, 2013

I've picked the sashing material for a set of blocks, and I'm cutting those pieces out now. I don't like to cut width of fabric strips for the setting pieces because it isn't usually an efficient use of fabric .  In most cases you can only get three or so pieces out of the strip, leaving odd little bits at the end, and I don't like wrestling large pieces of fabric around, nor do I want to press a big length of fabric.

I fold the large piece of fabric over again so that I have four layers (selvedges and fold aligned),   then I rough cut the lengthwise size of the sash I need,plus about an inch.  In this case I cut a piece 13 1/2" for a 12 1/2" sash, so that I could square it up as I went.  This means I can also press a relatively small piece of fabric with ease and really try to get that horrid centre crease out. Sometimes if you cut from either end the waste bit ends up in the middle and you don't have to use the fold at all.

I cut 3 1/2" strips from the piece and ended up with no leftovers at all.

 Then I trimmed each of these to the size I needed. There may be a slight bit of waste with the extra inch I've cut, but this is worth it to me for the convenience. And if you square up the width of fabric cuts you can lose a few inches anyway. This method suits me fine.

I'm cutting background blocks for a small applique top as well, and I do the same thing here. I have a four metre piece of fabric and I really don't want to press it all at once,
 so I chop off a piece big enough to work with.
  In this case the end was very unstraight, so I left a lot extra.
 I need 9 1/2" blocks, and I like to leave extra background fabric with applique anyway, so I cut this at 10 1/2" at the shortest point.
 I use one ruler to measure the length, and then square another one up to it so I can cut across the fabric.  Then I press really well and rough cut these blocks at least 10 1/2".

It feels good to be making decisions about these projects and getting fabric cut ready for sewing.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

I'm cutting for so many projects I'm in danger of confusing myself, so I'm going to call it quits soon. I've got a nice pile of pieces cut out and I'm feeling the urge to finish a few tops before the end of the year. At the beginning of 2013 I finished about four old projects and  I thought I'd continue throughout  the year but I got derailed again. There's still time to work on something, but Keryn and I want to do Bonnie's mystery, which started today....another project!

I'm cutting for a set of Woven Geese blocks, I had so much fun with the last lot I wanted to make another. This will be a fairly soft, low contrast colour scheme, mainly in greens and tan.

I've only made a couple of test pieces  for this, a Jack In The Pulpit block. It will be very simple, two clours per block in reproductions. Cutting continues....

I'm going to make another 4-4 Time as the other one has been washed so much it's looking rather faded now. I've only cut the squares for the little four patches but that has used heaps of oddments that I was glad to find a purpose for. I'll probably use these as Leader-enders for a while and then think about cutting the rest of the block.
 Then there are my 16 patches, quite a pile of them in fact, but still not enough to start setting together. They are nice and mindless sewing, so when I've finished cutting the rest of the bits I'll be able to whip them up in a couple of evenings.
 And lastly there are always the triangles, I have a whole drawer full of triangular scraps that need to be cut down.

 Every now and then I pull a few handfuls out, trim them and use them as Leader-enders, so that I also have a container of finished HST to play with.
That's enough to keep me busy this weekend!


Monday, November 25, 2013

I'm still in a 'cutting' mood, and the fabric has been falling under the rotary cutter in a satisfactory way. I've got rid of quite a mound of scraps and odd pieces of stuff, and now I'm pressing yardage to continue the cutting spree. Part of me keeps telling me to stop, but really, when you're in the mood who wants to interrupt the flow? I've made a few test blocks so I've been doing a bit of sewing, but I want to build the 'kits' up before I settle down at the machine.

Keryn spoke about my 'rough cutting' here and I love doing that becasue I can accumulate a heap of the fabric I need for blocks without getting bogged down with the finer details.

 With this kit, a block that I called "Time Turner" I know that if I've got a scrap 6" by 7 1/2" I can get two of these units from it.

 So two dark pieces will make a block, along with some 2 1/2" cream strips. I'm using solid cream homespun here, so any bits leftover from other projects are cut into strips  and put in here.

This block is nice because it's a positive/negative one; you cut the same pieces of light and dark. That means I can layer a light and dark fabric and cut the whole block out at once.  There's a pile of pieces in this container, nearly enough for a whole quilt and that feels like a sweet tucked away to be enjoyed later.

I could cut these into their final sizes before I put them away, but at the moment I'm focused on Dealing with Fabric, and I can make so much more progress by not being so precise and nit-picky. I've ironed the stuff, rough cut my blocks and put the fabric away and I'm on to the next project. It's quite exhilarating finding a purpose for so much material.

Oh dear, the puppies are such time wasters. Every night they go outside for what I like to call "Scamper Time" and they are so funny to watch as they explore the yard. I have an enclosure that I can put them in so they don't wander too far, but Pippi's on High Alert for about ten minutes when they first go out. Got to make sure there's no danger for her younguns.
 Once she's satisfied that all's well she relaxes and has a play with them. She's so gentle, while they are pretty rough and tumble in return.
Aw, sitting up like a proper little dog....


Sunday, November 17, 2013

 Keryn and I have both been thinking that it's going to be a long hot summer and we need to prepare for the days spent locked inside with the air conditioning. (Oh air conditioning, how I do love thee!)
We're thinking of projects to kit up and old UFO's that we can cut the final parts for. We'll have these waiting for the hot weather so we can just start sewing without even having to iron a bit of fabric first.

I've been moving a bundle of maroon and green fabrics around, mostly scraps that didn't have a home, and I decided to use them for Bonnie's Nifty Thrifty pattern from Scraps and Shirttails.

This is a lovely block to construct and very simple to cut, but I didn't really want to set it the same way as the book shows.
 So I fiddled around with graph paper and decided to set them with a negatively coloured block, same design but with the darks and light reversed.
I've worked out the pressing so the seams nest, and it should be easy to sew them all together, in fact I'm finding it hard not to just sit down and finish them all in one go. I've been putting the cut pieces in ziplock bags and now I have a nice little cache of them ready to squirrel away.
The puppies have blossomed into proper little dogs instead of furry blobs, and Sari is still my favourite. I can't have two dogs, can I......?


Saturday, November 09, 2013

 This week I got a phone call from my friend Sharon Porter to say "We Won!!" And I couldn't have been happier, because her work is magnificent, and thoroughly deserving of recognition. I keep thinking I'm  'just the quilter', but it was a joint effort and my stitches do enhance her beautiful applique. It's so hard for me to accept praise for some reason, so I should just shut up and be happy!

 Her quilt was entered in the Applique section (Two Person) of the South Australian Quilters' Guild show which is on now.  Disappointingly I can't get down to see it hanging, but a friend sent this photo, with the pronouncement "Awesome!" 

The design is by Michelle Hill, and as I stitched  I continually admired how beautifully balanced and flowing the shapes were. It was so interesting to work on; even though it was rather difficult to stitch around all those in and outs I was never bored! And I would rather be ditchstitching them than machine appliqueing them as Sharon had to do....

This is not a big quilt, for all the amazing applique swirling around, and when Sharon showed me the top I had no idea what to do. The background spaces are quite tiny and there was no room for fancy flowing feathers and fills. I decided that nothing should take away from the focal point, the applique, and I also didn't want to hammer the background flat as a tack.
 I spent a week carefully ditch stitching every single shape and vine, and burying dozens of thread ends by hand, which gave me breathing space while I worked out what to do. There's something terrifying about taking the first stitch on this blank canvas, worrying that you're going to ruin all that beautiful work and wondering whether what you've decided to quilt will actually look the way you want it to.

I started with the centre and quickly realised I had even less roon to manouvre than I'd thought, so ideas were simplified even further and I settled on the final plan. I filled in each little section at a time, rolling the quilt back and forth as there were four or eight or sixteen repeats. I can't work across the quilt without forgetting the pattern of movements in each section, so I did it like a colouring book, one little bit at a time. This also gave me time to think about the next bit I was going to tackle- if something worked well I tried to repeat it in other places.
 I loved these little pomegranate shapes, such fun to do.
Sometimes I wish I could draw it all out beforehand and just follow the lines, but I seem to get some of my best ideas as I'm quilting, allowing my mind to solve the problems just before I get to them. A bit nerve wracking, but it usually works out well.

I'm glad Sharon trusted me enough to quilt this, and I'm glad that she entered it in the show as I never seem to get around to things like that. You never know, I might just develop a taste for competition! But the main thing for me is knowing that between us we accomplished something beautiful, and when she hangs it in her home she can enjoy it every single day and think "I made that!"  It's a real tribute to her skill....


Friday, November 08, 2013

 I've been  trying to get good photos of the puppies, but it's impossible. They're still too little, not standing up yet and too squirmy at the wrong time. These three didn't turn out too bad, but two puppies, Titch and Tansy were just blurry brown blobs. I shall try again later!

This is Sari, one of the girls and she's a dear little thing. I love her markings, I'm a sucker for a white face.

This is Bear, who is almost black except for a few brindle stripes. He has a lovely personality, and is one of my favourites.

But everyone loves Dozer, a chunky solid bruiser of a puppy with a gorgeous face and an endearing gentle nature. Titch and Tansy are much more active and have already had a few play fights, and a couple of tantrums when Pippi's not quick enough with the food. Dozer's main activities are sleeping, feeding and yawning, followed by more sleeping. I'd love to see what sort of dog he grows into, but I don't think I can keep him, rats.

And I've got some exciting news to reveal shortly, stay tuned....


Friday, October 25, 2013

 This has been a busy week, puppies, birthdays, visits from family and five customer quilts done. Phew, I hope this weekend is a nice quiet one after such a hectic schedule.

 I haven't had as much time to spend with the puppies as I'd like, so tomorrow I want to sit down and take mugshots of each puppy and have a good cuddle with all of them.

Pippi has been very tolerant  and shared them with all the visitors; she's not possesive, just a  bit anxious when they're picked up. She's proved to be a very good mother, it's lovely to see.

I may get a bit of sewing time in this weekend, it feels ages since I did anything for myself....


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

 I hadn't mentioned Pippi's condition before and now it's all over, bar the squeaking and the constant feeding and the cleaning up.

Keryn has blogged about the arrival of the puppies here, so I won't go over it again. Pippi is being a wonderful mother and won't leave her charges for more than a few minutes, it's lovely to see how attentive she is. But after such a hard labour, this will be it for puppies. It's only fun when it goes well, like a lot of things. But this did end well in the long run, and now mother and  puppies are fine. The puppies are being steadily inflated  by their huge appetites, and they've grown so much already. I'll have to take lots of photos to record their progress, they're real cuties.


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